When Daft Punk released Random Access Memories in 2013, they posted up two artist-curated playlists on Spotify, one from Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and the other from Thomas Bangalter. Frequently, artist-curated playlists feel like marketing artifacts, promoting the artist’s’ own music, or that of their crew or label mates. But both Daft Punk playlists seem genuine, reflecting something essential about the legendary duo’s tastes, and, in the process, revealing new aspects about their own music.
Thomas’ playlist is probably the most useful in understanding where Daft Punk were as a group in 2013. There’s the jaunty disco of Chic’s “Good Times” and the French Touch-inspired synth pop of Phoenix, as well as a lot of tracks from Random Access Memories’ collaborators—the Neptunes, Giorgio Moroder and Panda Bear all show up. It’s a fun collection of some great (if painfully overplayed) songs, but the playlist delivers few surprises. Guy-Manuel’s playlist, on the other hand, does feel both more sprawling and idiosyncratic. From the lost ‘68 Move hit “Blackberry Way” to Juicy J’s hypnotic 2013 trap banger, “Show Out,” the playlist covers a lot of ground. It also focuses on some interesting detours in well-known catalogs, offering up a genuinely great “Casablanca” from Raekwon’s Immobilarity (the mostly overlooked follow-up to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx) and rescuing the disco honky tonk of the Rolling Stones’ “Dance (pt 1),” a deep album cut from Emotional Rescue.
There are times when it feels like Guy is taking the piss out of us—Exhibit A: Phil Collins’ overearnest “Against All Odds”—but few playlists can make it from Rocko’s 2013 smash “U.O.E.N.O.” to Alan Vega’s “Jukebox Babe,” and Guy-Manual should be applauded for connecting a lot of dots. — Sam Chennault